That small, rural hospitals like Eastern Plumas Health Care have trouble finding quality specialty physicians is an old story by now. The relative isolation and lack of big city amenities isn’t appealing to most specialists. What EPHC has managed to do increasingly, however, is to draw doctors who are either later in their careers, or working both here and in a larger hospital elsewhere.
These specialists are here because they have expressly chosen this environment and, often, they come from a robust, long-term practice. That is the case with EPHC’s most recent arrival, Dr. Sunnie Skiles, a Board Certified Pediatrician.
Dr. Skiles has been in private practice at her clinic, Proyouth, Pediatric Health & Wellness, in Rocklin since 2012. Prior to that, she was in a private partnership in Roseville for 22 years. While she isn’t ready to leave her Rocklin practice yet, she is looking to the future, and the future looks good to her in Plumas County. Beginning in January, she will start seeing patients one day a month at the Portola Clinic. This will be her “foot in the door,” and at some point in the next year or two, she hopes to build that up to one day a week, depending on how many pediatric patients need her care.
Dr. Skiles said she started traveling to the Eastern Sierra with her significant other, and she realized it’s where she wants to retire— or perhaps slow down is a better word for it. She’s been camping and hiking all over the Lakes Basin area and up the Highway 89 corridor. And, she recently had a tour of EPHC’s Portola campus, which sealed the deal.
She is starting to look for a place to move in this area. It’s my destination,” she said, “I want to get out of the city.” She grew up in Southern California, did her undergraduate work at U.C. Santa Barbara, medical school at U.C. Davis School of Medicine, and her residency in Phoenix at Children’s Hospital and at Maricopa Medical Center. Now, she is looking for a small place with a little acreage so she can have a horse, goats and maybe a big dog to watch over them.
The reason Dr. Skiles chose pediatrics, she said, was that her “primary goal is the wellness end of medicine.” In her practice, families have “one stop shopping for their children,” since she sees patients from birth to age 21, and she’s “always available for questions after hours.”
She almost went into family practice, but felt that when a child comes in, she also gets one or maybe both parents, and sometimes siblings as well. This offers her the best chance to educate her patients and their families on wellness principles.
Dr. Skiles finds the teaching aspect of her practice very rewarding. “There are a lot of topics to cover,” she said, “doing anticipatory guidance, safety, nutrition, exercise … getting them off the screen.” She also tries to get a sense of the family dynamics by asking questions about “different aspects of family life: do they eat together, does mom read to the kids, etc. …”
Dr. Skiles has a compassionate attitude toward children and their families and “considers it a joy and a responsibility” to care for them.
Dr. Skiles currently has two yorkies that she takes everywhere with her, but when she moves to Plumas County, she’s “looking forward to having some large animals. I love animals so much,” she said. It’s good to know that this place, this community, has a lot to offer a quality physician like Dr. Sunnie Skiles, just as she does for us.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Skiles, starting in January, call 832-6600.